Zootrophion niveum

Week 37 Plant 1: Dec 7, 2020

Zootrophion niveum


First plant of this week - Zootrophion niveum.

Zootrophion niveum is accepted species by WCSP (Kew) - Luer & Hirtz, Monogr. Syst. Bot. Missouri Bot. Gard. 95: 224 (2004).

Found in Morona-Santiago province of Ecuador at elevation around 900 meters (approximately 3,000 feet) as a miniature sized warm growing epiphyte. Perhaps the most unifying feature, and the feature that probably limits human interest in them, in the fact that the flowers newer actually open, their sepals being fused at their tips.

Although you can find 46 awards in OrchidPro, only 2 awards for Zootrophion niveum (HCC 77 pts, 2012 and CBR in 2008). There are number of cultural awards for other Zootrophion species.

Our candidate has 42 flowers and 10 buds. I believe that inflorescences are single flowered but probably can produce sequential blooms. Because some flowers and buds are inside the leaves number of flowers and buds are approximately (counted visible flowers and buds).

Flower Measurements:

NS H - 0.7 cm, NS V - 2.0 cm;

Other parts of the flowers are not measured.

Plant is 15 cm heights and 25 cm wide.

Judges' Comments

Al Messina (Accredited Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

Fifty two flowers and buds typical of the species, essentially immaculately grown (we should also be given the total number of growths and the total number of flowering growths, if possible, for completeness);

species already recognized with CBR. Should qualify for a CCM 81-83 points. Species known to be caespitose, forming large clumps in the wild, and with continued good culture, will get much larger.

Note: Several CHMs awarded to other members of the genus after initial CBRs likely related to color. In my opinion, there is little to no horticultural value to this species, but considerable botanic interest. For horticultural merit, there should be some quality of the species which could be used in horticulture to advance the art/hobby, such as floriferousness, outstanding color, large flower-small plant disparity, or other quality which might be useful in, say, hybridization, such that many orchidists would be flocking to purchase the progeny. With this genus, not so much. Beauty of the slit-open flower unfortunately is lost on the pollinating fungus gnat.

Kristen Mason (Accredited Judge, Cincinnati Judging Center)

Beautifully grown and flowered plant. Leaves are exceptionally clean. Large number of flowers for the size of the plant, displayed throughout the plant. Flowers are small compared to the awards. I scored it at 85 Cultural Award.

Deb Boersma (Student Judge, Great Lakes Judging Center)

Zootrophion niveum

This looks like a beautifully grown healthy plant. I find it difficult to comment on the flower form seeing that the flower does not completely open. The flowers look similar, in regards to form and colour, to flowers of the HCC awarded plant but the flowers are significantly smaller so I would not nominate this plant for a flower quality award.

I would however, nominate this plant for a cultural award. It looks like a well grown plant, one leaf shown in the video has accordion pattern but the rest of the leaves look very healthy and in good shape and condition. The growth and the flowers appear to be displayed nicely all around the plant. With 42 flowers it has a higher count than the HCC awarded and the CBR awarded plant. I would give it a low CCM 81-82, a higher score if there were more flowers.

Thanks for letting me participate.

Deb Bodei (Associate Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

Thanks for including my commentary.



This plant is pristine and grown beautifully and is doing what it is meant to do with an abundance of blooms. The only plant to receive a flower award was a much smaller plant in comparison but had a good number of blooms for its size. There is only one flower that looks to be fading, but all others seem to be in pristine condition as is the plant itself. The blooms are a nice bright white and the open, but fused flowers are quite lovely.


I would recommend this plant for a cultural award and a flower award and expect a CCM and an AM.

John Sullivan (Accredited Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

Zootrophion niveum

This species previously received a CBR as noted. With a beautiful display of white flowers reminiscent of snowdrops (Galanthus), the grower has done a fine cultural job! I don't believe that this plant merits a CHM because of the nature of a closed flower presentation. However a cultural award is in order. There are a number of cultural awards, but none to this species. Some of these were granted outside of the U.S. to larger plants with proportionately greater numbers of flowers. I believe the candidate could serve as a benchmark for the species. I would nominate it for a cultural award and score it in the range of 83 to 85 points.

Bob Winkley (Accredited Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

Zootrophion niveum

Thank you, Sergey, for sharing this pristine, beautifully-grown specimen of a plant. I hope they are truly pleased with this achievement!

Looking at the video and the close-ups, it appears that we do have flowers around most of the periphery of the plant, though some spots are quite densely flowered and others much less so. In the densely flowered areas, it seems that we have some growths producing multiple flowers - I counted upwards of 4 flowers on one growth and the literature I have access to indicated that the growths usually bear two flowers. Given the comment that the potential exists for many interior flowers and buds I think a cultural award might be considered. However, what needs to be taken into account is the ratio of flowers to growths. While I can imagine giving significant points for size and condition of plant, as well as the excellent condition of bloom, I would currently be hard pressed to give even mid-range points for floriferousness. If the overall presentation of flowers around the plant were more consistently dense (which appears to be a trait most cultural awards to Zootrophion share) then I wouldn't be as much on the fence.

That said, if this plant were nominated for a cultural award I would score it in the low 80s.

One other note - seeing a plant of this size and number of flowers it begins to tick all the boxes for a CHM. It appears vigorous/robust, the size and number of flowers is good, and overall it is an aesthetically pleasing plant. Though there is a CBR on record for this species with 2 slightly larger flowers, the aspects I cite definitely move the plant into the realm of horticultural merit for me. With that in mind, I would probably score it around 84 pts.

Bob Winkley

William Bottoms (Student Judge, Carolinas Judging Center)

Zootrophion niveum


I love anything funky and different like this. I grow plenty of Pleurothallids, but I don’t grow any Zootrophion. I do have a few on my list that I’d want to pick up if I ran across them. This plant is incredibly well flowered and well grown. I love the character of the flowers… little creamy tear drops, the barely open windows into their interior. Simply lovely. I do wish that the grower spent some time cleaning up the plant - removing damaged leaves, dead and damaged flowers, dried inflorescences.


Unfortunately I would pass on this plant for a cultural award based on what I see. I would definitely want the grower to bring it back on a subsequent blooming and after cleaning up the foliage and removing the desiccated inflorescences and dead and damaged flowers. I think I would end up passing on a quality award at this time as well. There are too many flowers that I see with damage. If the grower returned with this plant in the future I think a cultural award and flower quality award could certainly be on the table.


Will Bottoms

Paul Paludet (Student Judge, Western Canada Judging Center)

Hi Sergey … I have had a chance to review the Zootrophion this morning and I hope that I am not too late. Here are my comments:

Zootrophion niveum has an unusual and interesting, gracefully shaped, cream to white flower. The only previous AOS flower award is ‘Cloud Dancer’ HCC/AOS which has one sixth of the flower count and one half of the flower size of our judging plant. There are no awards in other jurisdictions. Although it is not possible to assess the flower parts as they are fused, it does present an attractive form, shape and colour that warrants consideration. The unmarred flowers are relatively evenly displayed around the plant. This is a substantial improvement over the previous award. I would consider this flower for a low to mid AM. From a cultural standpoint, it is an impeccably grown plant. Although it has slight damage to two leaves and the flowers are not distributed entirely evenly around the plant, it is worthy of consideration for a CCM.

Kudos to the grower!


Paul Paludet

Laura Newton (Accredited Judge, Florida North Central Judging Center)

Hello Sergey,

Having grown a couple of Zootrophion, I am inspired by the wonderful growing of the exhibitor.

Sadly the prior HCC does not really have a quality award photo, so it is hard to compare to it and very few of the flowers even seem to be open.

In comparison this submitted plant is much more floriferous and the flowers seem to be in good condition, so I would have no problem in granting this a cultural award based on the size of the plant and the condition of the leaves.

As far as a quality award, we only have one photo of an upclose flower, but it is showing nice color and a good gap of a fully open flower. I could certainly entertain a quality award based on the one good flower that we are shown.

Laura Newton

AOS Award Registrar


Exhibitor - Longwood Gardens, PA (orchid grower - Greg Griffis)

Virtual Award Description

Forty two pendulous flowers and ten buds on fifty two inflorescences arising from leaf axils emanating from a caespitose, very clean 25 cm wide by 15 cm high plant growing in a 11 cm wide by 10 cm high clay rosepot encrusted in moss; flowers concolor cream-white, sepals fused, presenting a slit-like opening bilaterally, allowing pollinator entry but not allowing for internal inspection without dissection; substance firm; texture waxy; a well-grown example of an uncommonly seen species from Ecuador.